Listing, abandonment and subsequent sinking of cargo vessel Irving Forest

Location: North Atlantic.

Accident Investigation Report: Irving Forest

Read our marine accident investigation report, which includes what happened and actions taken:



Late on the 10 January 1990, in mid-North Atlantic, during storm weather conditions of 65 knot winds (Beaufort force 12) and 6-9 metre seas, Irving Forest took a starboard list of some 20 degrees, as a result of ingress of water into the starboard side ballast tanks. Early on the 11 January, as a result of the heavy list and the prevailing conditions, the ship suffered a total blackout which resulted in loss of propulsion. A deck stowed container was lost overboard and subsequently three other deck stowed containers were also lost. During preparations to abandon ship, three people were washed overboard, fortunately an RAF aircraft was able to drop an air-sea rescue pack including two inflatable liferafts, one of which the three persons in the sea eventually boarded. The remaining members of the crew subsequently left the ship by jumping overboard while hooked onto the ship’s liferaft painter, the liferaft having been successfully launched into the sea. Irving Forest subsequently sank.

Safety Issues

  • there was a known weakness in the ballast system
  • more positive steps might have been taken to establish the exact causes of water ingress, before the situation became beyond control


No recomendations were made.

This report was published on 30 April 1992.

Published 23 January 2015